The driving forces behind this development are – besides the usual suspects, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization – governmental development organizations themselves.
For land use and land rights, development usually entails the formalization, specification and individualization of property rights.
So where does this fixation on private property come from?
From a legal point of view, private property rights grant the possibility to exclude other persons from an asset.
As soon as we start speaking about “globalization,” we inevitably associate it with the excessive financial markets that are disconnected from the real economy.
There is less public awareness of another type of globalization that also involves the forced unification of institutions all over the world: the institution of private property and privatization strategies.
They strenuously object to private property regimes that exclude all other forms of property rights because such regimes trample underfoot the manifold commons institutions that have ensured broad access to land and sustainable use for a long time.
Governmental development organizations are taking greater notice of this criticism, but some promising conceptual alternatives are beyond the scope so far.
Apart from misleading wording – Hardin was in fact describing a tragedy of open access while commons are always characterized by controlled access1) are not limited to the “improvements” (such as plantings or buildings).
They also include the most important sources of land value – the location, the intensity of use and the quality of the land compared with marginal lands (where the yields just cover the costs).